Career Advice











11 Top Paying Jobs You Can Get with an Associate Degree

Nowadays it can cost a fortune to obtain a four-year college degree. Thankfully, there’s another option on the table: getting a much less expensive two-year associate degree that can still put you on a path to earn a very nice annual income – we’re talking upwards of $50,000 a year. Sounds good, right? Read on to learn about 11 high-paying jobs that only require associate degrees.


  1. Air Traffic Controller This job comes with some serious stress, but if you can handle it, the average pay is around $80,000 annually (source: ZipRecruiter, 2023). As an air traffic controller, you will direct the flow of airplane traffic both on the ground and in the skies, ensuring the safety of air travelers. There are air traffic controller schools that provide specialized two-year associate degrees for folks interested in this career.
  2. Computer Programmer If you like to code (that is, create computer software and applications), becoming a computer programmer might be right up your alley. With an average annual salary of $74,000 (source: Glassdoor, 2023), many employers are willing to hire applicants with only an associate degree.
  3.  Radiation Therapists Radiation therapists earn an average of around $83,000 a year (source: HealthJob, 2023). Using radiation to treat diseases like cancer, they generally work in hospitals, physician offices, and outpatient centers. Employers typically hire people for this position who at a minimum have an AS degree in radiation therapy.
  4. Dental Hygienist Dental hygienists are in high demand, and the career pays well too (on average around $78,000 a year (source: HealthJob, 2023). Most employers look for an associate degree in dental hygiene, which typically takes three years to complete. This career might appeal to you if you like the idea of helping people make healthy choices.
  5. Registered Nurse While many nurses eventually go on to earn a four-year degree, it’s definitely possible to land a job in this field with a two-year associate degree in nursing (ADN). With an average annual salary of $77,000 (source: ZipRecruiter, 2023), RNs educate patients about health concerns, coordinate their care, and provide guidance and support.
  6. Aerospace and Electrical Engineering Technicians Technicians in the aerospace and electrical engineering fields generally earn between $67,000 (source: ZipRecruiter, 2023) and $75,000 (source: ZipRecruiter, 2023) per year. If you’re analytical by nature, you might enjoy these tech-centric career paths that place a big emphasis on math, science, programming, and computer software.
  7. MRI Technologists The average annual salary for an MRI technologist is around $84,000 (source: ZipRecruiter, 2023). People in this profession use and maintain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners. They need strong interpersonal skills that enable them to work with physicians and interact with patients.
  8. Web Developer Web developers can make good money – to the tune of $82,000 per year on average for mid-level developers (source: Hostinger Tutorials, 2023) – with only an associate degree under their belt. These professionals design and create websites on behalf of their clients and usually know how to code in languages like HTML, JavaScript, and CSS.
  9. Paralegals If you wish to pursue a law career, consider starting out as a paralegal so you can gain relevant experience. Employers usually look for an associate degree and strong organizational, writing, and research skills. The average annual salary for a paralegal is around $50,000 (source: ZipRecruiter, 2023).
  10. Occupational Therapy Assistants If you like the idea of helping patients recover from physical injuries, occupational therapy might just fit the bill for you. A two-year associate degree in occupational therapy usually incorporates a clinical component. OTAs generally earn about $86,000 per year on average (source: ZipRecruiter, 2023).
  11. Network Engineers An AS degree in network engineering can open up several different career avenues from network administration and monitoring to cybersecurity. The average annual salary of a network engineer is around $107,000 (source:, 2023). If you are a good problem solver and proficient with programming languages, computer networks, and security, this might be the right career for you.


As you can see, an associate degree can easily land you a high-paying career that you enjoy. In some cases, it can be wise to forgo the traditional, expensive four-year degree and pursue one of the many lucrative career paths that are available to those who earn a two-year associate degree instead.